Page last updated at 11:25 GMT, Wednesday, 30 September 2009 12:25 UK

Lakes warning over 'killer' plant

Crassula helsii
Crassula helsii was introduced from Tasmania in 1911

Anglers and boating enthusiasts in the Lake District have been warned against accidentally spreading an antipodean aquatic menace.

Crassula helsii, or Australian swamp stonecrop, has taken hold in a number of areas, smothering native flora and depriving wildlife of food.

It can be spread by footwear, fishing tackle, boats and trailers.

The Lake District National Park Authority has circulated leaflets appealing for vigilance.

Introduced from Tasmania in 1911 as an oxygenating plant, it grows around the damp margins of ponds and in shallow water.

'Particularly nasty'

It rapidly becomes a large, dense mat of vegetation, and has caused damage in Bassenthwaite Lake, Coniston Water, Grasmere, Derwentwater, Rydal Water and Windermere.

Steve Tatlock, LDNP lake ranger, said that it was a "particularly nasty" alien species which was very difficult to control and eliminate.

"The public have a huge part to play," he said.

"They can help by cleaning equipment such as fishing gear, wellies and boats.

"As this is the time of year when boats are coming off the lakes, I would ask owners to make sure they are properly washed off."

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